The pandemic has forced many people out of jobs and unemployment has reached record numbers, which means times are tough and money is tight for many of us.
Everything feels exponentially more stressful and difficult during this pandemic, many of us are forced to deal with the anxiety of finances on top of everything else we have to worry about.
When the money you have got just will not go far enough, you need to know how to strategically pay some bills — and minimize the fallout from not paying them all.
Here are 5 simple things you can do to help relieve some of the stress and burden of your finances during this trying time.
1. Take care of the essentials first
If you cannot pay all your bills, which is quite common right now, start with the essentials.
Food, utilities, your rent and your mortgage, and then your car, in that order. These are the things to pay first if you cannot pay for everything.
The most important thing right now is to pay your critical expenses, like putting a roof over your head and food on the table for your family.
Focus on the basics, credit scores can recover.
2. Use the money saved to settle a few debts
If you are fortunate enough to cover all your necessities, then you can start to look at your other expenses. Some people are actually saving more money than before the pandemic due to lowered spending towards travel and entertainment.
One option is to use this extra money as an opportunity to pay down debt balances, starting with bad debt first.
While you are there, it is wise to start thinking about any non-essential spending you can cut. Remember, life looks a little different now than it did a few months ago, so this is a good time to re-evaluate your needs.
For more tips on debt repayment, find out whether it’s better to pay off debt or save.
3. Be Ready for Phone Calls
One thing you wouldn’t want to do is ignore your creditor(s) calls, ditch the guilt and face the music.
Ignoring calls will only make things worse as more interest may be added, leading to you getting blacklisted.
For you to have a clean record, answer that phone call and let your creditors know of your inability to make a payment, and arrange a payment plan that will be more convenient for you.
4. Ask for a Lower Payment Plan or a Payment Holiday
It is important to be transparent and open with your creditor(s) about your inability to make the minimum amount due.
Many companies have special programs to help people who are experiencing financial difficulties right now due to the pandemic.
Contact the companies you owe and try to work out a new payment plan with lower payments or delayed due dates, and find out if they do not offer programs that will allow you to hold off on paying some bills right now or rather if they offer you a debt management plan.
With all the changes you will be making, make sure to have everything in writing for future reference and just have it on record should anything happen.
Financial professionals can help you develop a personalized plan to get out (and stay out) of debt at a pace that fits your life and your situation — even if that situation is a global pandemic.
5. Explore New Avenues for Income
If you have lost your job or are worried you could get laid off soon, explore some alternate ways to earn extra income.
Consider a side job, discover your unknown talents, conduct research, and monetize on that.
There are so many ways that one can make extra cash, google is your friend, better start now.
It is important to make time after you have figured out how you will be able to pay your bills and worked out repayment options to check your credit reports. Your credit reports and scores play an important role in your future financial opportunities.